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Aug. 18 — MSU Bears Football Report

SPRINGFIELD – As with most preseason scrimmages, there was both good and bad to be taken from Plaster Field on Saturday morning (Aug. 18) when the Missouri State Bears conducted their second intrasquad football match-up.

During the team’s final workout of fall camp, the offense rolled up 544 yards on 115 official plays, the defense forced four turnovers, but it was the penalties that got the attention of the head coach.

“Last week we ran 121 plays and had 4 penalties,” said Terry Allen. “I think today we had 4 penalties in the first 20 plays and 16 total for the scrimmage. You can’t win football games with that many penalties.”

Highlighting the morning session were junior Mikael Cooper-Falls with three touchdowns, Dorian Buford with 90 receiving yards, and Kierra Harris with 261 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Cooper-Falls scored the first two touchdowns of the day, first on a 24-yard pass from Harris, and later on a one-yard run. Toward the end of the scrimmage, the Springfield native punched one in from five yards out. He finished with an efficient 4 carries for 7 yards on the ground and 31 total yards.

Harris completed his first 5 pass attempts before being intercepted. But the more snaps he got, the more confidence he seemed to get. Harris connected on 9 of his last 12 passes for 106 yards, including a 60-yard strike to Dorian Buford for a touchdown.

Buford, a junior who started three games a year ago, finished with team highs with 7 catches for 90 yards. Newcomer Tre Kelley (66 yards) and tight end Matt Thayer (49 yards) were next with 6 receptions apiece.

Allen said taking the good with the bad is part of the preseason, but learning from mistakes is part of the process of becoming a better football team.

“We had some really good learning experiences out there,” said Allen. “That’s what we strive for.”

Sophomore safeties Mike Crutcher and Caleb Schaffitzel each recorded interceptions, along with junior Howard Scarborough who had two of the defense’s five break-ups. Jonathan Walker also had a 37-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown late in the scrimmage, and there were a pair of blocked kicks.

The Bears will have Sunday off to recover and begin preparing for the fall semester, which begins Monday at MSU. The team will have two weeks to begin preparing for its Sept. 1 season opener at Kansas State, beginning with an afternoon practice Monday at Plaster Field.

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Scrimmage #2 Stats

Aug. 18, 2012

RUSHING (52-113): Ryan Heaston 5-32 (TD), Vernon Scott 6-23, Cedric Miller 6-20, Maddy Johnson 9-15, Kierra Harris 3-12, Josh Mattes 9-11; Mikael Cooper-Falls 4-7 (2TD); Ashton Glaser 2-7, Benny Jones 5-2, Brodie Lambert 1-(-4), Team 2-(-12).

PASSING (63-40-3, 431, 3 TD): Kierra Harris 31-20-1, 261 (2 TD); Ashton Glaser 27-15-2, 149 (1 TD); Brodie Lambert 5-4-0, 20; Alex Lawson 1-1-0, 1.

RECEIVING (40-431): Dorian Buford 7-90 (TD), Tre Kelley 6-66, Matt Thayer 6-49, Cadarrius Dotson 3-38 (TD), Matt Swan 3-23, Ryan Heaston 2-25, Julian Burton 2-14, Staceey Thornton 2-14, Marvell Saffold 2-10, Eric Christophel 1-45, Mikael Cooper-Falls 1-24 (TD) Vernon Scott 1-21, Zac Hoover 1-5, Cedric Miller 1-5, Richard Darden 1-1, Nick Thomas 1-1.

FIELD GOALS (1-5): Austin Witmer 1-4 (long 42), Marcelo Bonani 0-1.

DEFENSE:
Interceptions (3-40): Howard Scarborough 1-30, Mike Crutcher 1-10, Caleb Schaffitzel 1-0.

Fumble Recoveries (1-37): Jonathan Walker 1-37.

SCORING PLAYS:
Mikael Cooper-Falls 24-yard pass from Kierra Harris (Marcelo Bonani kick)
Mikael Cooper-Falls 1-yard run (Austin Witmer kick)
Cadarrius Dotson 5-yard pass from Ashton Glaser (Marcelo Bonani kick)
Austin Witmer 42-yard field goal
Ryan Heaston 7-yard run (Marcelo Bonani kick)
Mikael Cooper-Falls 5-yard run (no PAT)
Dorian Buford 60-yard pass from Kierra Harris (no PAT)
Jonathan Walker 37-yard fumble return (no PAT)

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Aug. 17 – MSU Bears Football Report

Coach Bob Montgomery Talks About the Bears Special Teams “K.N.O.T. Heads”

Friday not only marked move-in day on the Missouri State campus, but another landmark for the Bears football squad—the final day of two-a-days. The Bears spent a good deal of time working on two and four-minute situations on both sides of the ball in their two-hour morning practice at Plaster Field heading into their second scrimmage of the fall camp on Saturday.

Special teams were the focus of Friday’s afternoon practice, with the Bears returning a host of experienced performers at a number of key spots. MSU will have no shortage of experienced punt and kick returners this fall, returning six of the eight players who fielded kickoffs last season and three of its four punt returners.

“We probably have six to eight guys back there, big bodies who can run through tackles,” Montgomery said. “We have Julian Burton, Cedric Miller, the freshman from Memphis, some guys that can really go and we’re excited about that.”

Topping the list of return candidates is Julian Burton who had a team-high 10 punt returns (7.3) and notched 17 kick returns (18.8) as a redshirt freshman in 2011. Burton has a career kickoff return average of 21.9, including a 54-yarder as a short-season freshman in 2010.

Vernon Scott had a team-high 18 kickoff returns last season, while Caleb Schaffitzel closed out the 2011 season with 5 kickoff returns late in the year with a 33.6 average and season-high 75 yard effort at Youngstown State. Sybhrian Berry (8.4 punt return average and 16.7 kickoff return average) also figures to be in the mix.

Long-snapping duty will come down to the battle between returning squadman Hunter Hays, who inherited that role this spring from graduated senior Kaleb Mueller, and incoming freshman Colby Wickwar, who has been a pleasant surprise in fall camp, Montgomery says.

Another new face, Chris Sullens, is the summer favorite to be the club’s top punter this season after he averaged 38.0 yards per punt on 11 attempts this spring. Filling the shoes of four-year starter Jordan Chiles won’t be easy, but junior kicker Austin Witmer has been Chiles’ understudy the past two seasons and can step in if necessary.

Witmer averaged 61.9 yards per kickoff last season (43 attempts), was 25-for-26 on extra points and is 11-for-19 in his career in field goal kicking. His role as the club’s top place kicker seems eminent, and his confidence will only boosted this fall with a solid effort in spring drills. Sophomore transfer Marcelo Bonani has also competed well in fall camp, Montgomery added.

No matter who you’re talking about on special teams, it all comes down to consistency, Montgomery says.

“Consistency has kind of been the word of camp for this group. They have the ability and if they can be consistent, we’ll be okay.”

Players not involved in special teams work spent part of Friday afternoon helping other students move in to their residence halls.

The Bears will conduct their second scrimmage of the preseason Saturday at 9:15 a.m., at Plaster Field. The event, which is free and open to the public, was originally scheduled for 10:15 a.m. The scrimmage will mark the Bears’ 20th preseason practice and officially conclude fall camp, which began on Aug. 2.

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Aug. 16 — MSU Bears Football Report

Practice No. 17 on Thursday afternoon was an abbreviated session for the Bears who modified the scheduled workout to accommodate thunderstorms in the Springfield area. The practice lasted just over two hours at Plaster Field and was sandwiched right between a series of showers.

“It was sultry hot when we got out here around three o’clock,” said head coach Terry Allen. “The humidity was pretty intense. We did things in a different order in practice so we could make sure that we got those things in. I think it was good for us.”

Allen noted the change of routine was a healthy break for his troops after two solid weeks of workouts.

“After 17 practices of relatively the same routine, it gets a little old and boring,” Allen explained. “So we changed things up which upped the intensity. We got done a little bit early and beat the storm.”

The Bears plan a long practice on Friday morning at 8:30 a.m., followed by a special teams session on Friday afternoon. Most of the players will spend part of Friday afternoon moving into the dormitories or helping other students as they arrive on campus.

Camp officially concludes on Saturday morning with the team’s second fall scrimmage. Allen said the Saturday session may be moved up to 9:15 a.m., pending confirmation from the game officials.

One of the key ingredients to the Bears’ success this season will be the team’s running game where MSU returns just 12 percent of its rushing yards from 2011. Two-year letterman Vernon Scott (Muskogee, Okla.), a junior, leads the list of returnees after he carried 42 times for 167 yards a year ago. The only other letterman in the backfield is Mikael Cooper-Falls who missed all of 2010 and 2011 with a pair of knee injuries. The Springfield native led the club in rushing as a true freshman in 2009 with 424 yards on 92 carries.

Also returning are redshirt freshmen Ryan Heaston (Cordova, Tenn.) and Maddy Johnson (Webb City, Mo.) along with spring addition Benny Jones (So., St. Louis, Mo.) and converted defensive specialist Josh Mattes (So., Eldridge, Mo.).

Joining the cast is Memphis native Cedric Miller, a true freshman who assistant coach Gerald Davis says is in the mix for playing time after he led the squad in the first fall scrimmage with 51 yards on 9 carries with a touchdown.

“Right now it’s an open position,” the Bears’ running back coach explained. “Vernon (Scott) has the most experience, and it’s his time to shine. But guys like Ryan Heaston, Cedric Miller, Mikael Cooper-Falls, Maddy Johnson and Josh Mattes are all pushing him, so he can’t take a day off.”

Davis also noted that the pass blocking ability of his group has impressed him the most so far this spring.

“We’re making strides every day,” said Davis. “The young guys are coming along. They’re all picking up the offense. They’re sticking together and pushing each other every day.”

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Aug. 15 – MSU Bears Football Report

Coach Courtney Sanders Talks About the Bears’ Defensive Line

As the calendar hit the midway point in August, the Missouri State Bears continued their march toward their Sept. 1 season opener with Kansas State with a pair of workouts Wednesday. The Bears focused on situationals and individual position work with a 90-minute morning practice, before finishing up on the grass practice fields late in the afternoon.

“These are grind-it-out days,” head coach Terry Allen commented. “They are more mental than physical. We’re going to be out here for two practices today. It’s a good time to see which guys are mentally tough.”

It’s important to take advantage of the hours we have with them this week – not only on the field but in the meeting rooms. We have to teach an awful lot on special situations, so we try to take advantage of all the extra meeting time we have this time of year.”

One area in which the Bears should feel comfortable in terms of being ahead of the learning curve is on the defensive line. This year’s d-line will feature three players who started at least seven games last season, combining for seven years of experience at the collegiate level. MSU will also have additional depth on the d-line, giving position coach Courtney Sanders reason to be optimistic.

“We have guys who can play — who can run and make plays,” said Sanders. “It’s hard to replace a guy like (fifth-year senior) Mikel Ruder, but I like the talent we have this year, and I think finding a leader and playing as a unit will be the key to our success.”

Ruder brought down 48 ball carriers in 2011 and started all 11 games en route to earning All-MVFC second-team distinction.  But returnees Tevan Ferguson, Martin Montgomery and Eric Pearce combined for 22 starts and 97 total tackles a year ago while maturing significantly in the process.

“Those three guys had great springs,” Sanders said. “We will count on them to lead us. With the depth we should have, we just need to work as a unit and stay healthy.”

The Bears will get the services of defensive ends Anthony Grady and Corey Feagin back after they missed all of 2011 with injuries. Juco transfers Spencer Emerson, who arrived this spring, and C.J. Randall will also add depth and push for significant playing time along with redshirt freshman James Barnes who emerged from the spring as a serious contender for defensive reps.

“The surprise of the spring was James Barnes, and if Corey Feagin can stay healthy, he can really help us too,” Sanders said.  “I am also really excited about C.J. Randall. He can compete for a starting position, has maturity and great leadership potential.”

The Bears head back to the practice field Thursday for a 3:30 p.m. workout, followed by a pair of practices Friday. MSU will also engage in its second controlled scrimmage of the fall camp at Plaster Field, Saturday at 10:15 a.m.

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Aug. 14 – MSU Bears Football Report

Head Coach Terry Allen Comments on Fall Position Battles
Coach B.J. Stotser Previews the Bears’ Cornerback Group

Day 13 of the Missouri State Bears fall camp featured just one afternoon practice, as cooler temperatures continued to give the gridders a needed boost. The Bears focused on special teams and positional work early in the workout before shifting into the team-oriented portion of the practice agenda.

Head coach Terry Allen indicated the highly competitive quarterback race remains a dead heat, like several other positions, and refrained from identifying a target date for settling those debates.

“I think the obvious question centers around Ashton (Glaser) and Kierra (Harris) at quarterback,” the seventh-year head coach said. “They both handled things well Saturday. We’ve just got to wait and see.”

One unit to which the Bears’ coaching staff will look for leadership and growth this fall is the cornerback group. Talented junior Sybhrian Berry headlines the MSU corners after he started nine times as a sophomore and notched 44 tackles with a team-high seven pass break-ups. Berry has impressive speed and will continue to improve in the secondary while providing a solid return man on special teams.

Also back is junior Howard Scarborough, whose sophomore year ended prematurely after an injury in week five sidelined him for the remainder of the year. He started all 11 games as a redshirt freshman in 2010 and will be counted on for big things at right cornerback this fall in his fourth season in the program.

“Everybody coming back has played and has experience,” said B.J. Stotser, MSU’s secondary coach. “Sybhrian is instrumental to what we’re doing, Howard has some quality experience, and James Caine is starting to pick things up. I’m excited about what we have.”

Caine played in 10 games as a first-year transfer in 2011 and will look to add to his playing time this fall behind Scarborough and newcomer Jeremiah Plowden, a juco standout from Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College who Stotser thinks will push for immediate playing time.

Backing up Berry will be Webb City product Jarvis Jones who is a tremendous athlete and true freshman talent who has the ability to contribute right away.

The Bears tackle the first of two remaining two-a-days Wednesday, with practices slated for 8:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m.

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Aug. 13 – MSU Bears Football Report

WR Coach Mike Chandler Talks About the Bears’ First Scrimmage, New-Look Offense

With their first scrimmage of the 2012 preseason camp in the books, the Missouri State Bears returned to the practice field Monday with a pair of workouts to kick off the final week of two-a-days before the start of the fall semester. The Bears got back to the basics in a pair of 90-minute sessions, focusing on building on the positives from Saturday’s initial scrimmage.

One group that has plenty to be excited about from Saturday is the MSU receiving corps. In all, 15 different players recorded receptions in the 115-play scrimmage, as the Bears racked up more than 500 yards through the air and scored four times on passing plays.

The Bears will return four of their seven top receivers (induding TE Matt Thayer) from 2011 and should benefit from the team’s new-look, up-tempo offense. Gone is All-MVFC first-teamer Jermaine Saffold, who signed a free agent contract with the Cleveland Browns in April, but leading the charge of returnees is three-year starter Cadarrius Dotson. Dotson snagged 22 receptions for 214 yards a year ago and has 88 career catches. He led the club with 14 receptions for 170 yards this spring and is the early favorite to start at the slot receiver position this season.

Julian Burton, who played eight games as a redshirt freshman last year has been one of the squad’s top return men the last two years, but will move to outside receiver this fall in hopes of better utilizing his speed.  He had 11 receptions for 94 yards in 2011 and averaged 7.3 yards per punt return, but has been hampered by a hamstring injury in fall camp.

Dorian Buford posted 10 receptions for 98 yards last fall and earned three starts in his first season at MSU. He’s the preseason favorite to take over the Z-receiver spot permanently this fall and has the size and speed to be a game changer.

“Our depth looks good, but we lack a lot of true playing experience,” said wide receivers coach Mike Chandler. “I’d really like to see Julian Burton step up this season, and I think we’d all like to see Cadarrius Dotson make strides for his senior year. Dorian Buford can play all three positions, and that is big for us.”

Backing up the big three will be senior Adrian Williams who had a bounce-back spring after struggling for playing time the last couple of years. He started four games in 2009, and rediscovered some of that magic in April with a game-high 6 receptions for 53 yards in the Maroon and White Spring Game. Redshirt freshman Eric Christophel also had a good spring and is a fundamentally-sound slot man who is one of the team’s best blocking receivers.

Returning squadman Duane Atteberry is also versatile and rugged enough to see some playing time this season, while newcomers Tre Kelley, Zac Hoover, Marvell Saffold, Eric Brown and Adam Judnich will all get their opportunities to impress. Kelley was the star of Saturday’s scrimmage, hauling in a pair of long touchdown passes and totaling a team-high 160 yards on six receptions.

“I’m not afraid to play freshmen,” said Chandler. “I’ve done that the last couple of years, so those guys will get their chance. Of the new players, Eric Christophel has all the tools. He’s scrappy, mixes it up in run blocking and just makes plays.”

MSU will practice at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in its lone workout of the day.

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Costa Rica Day 6

Hey everyone it’s Sunday and our last full day here in Costa Rica! Today we are going white water rafting!

We started off the day by waking up super early. We ate breakfast at the hotel as usual. The bus picked us up and we made a two hour bus ride into the mountains to the white water rafting place.

The whole rafting experience was really fun and exciting! The river we were rafting on ran through the mountains and we saw some beautiful sights. The rapids were not too bad. There were stretches that threw you off balance; I even fell into the water once. That was probably the most fun part! We had lunch on the side of the river. The guys that were our guides made sandwiches with fresh fruit and vegetables. After lunch we got back on the river and finished the rafting up.

Once the rafting was done we made the long bus ride back to the hotel. When we got back to the hotel we basically had free time to ourselves for the rest of the day. I decided to just get some food, hit the hot tub and chill my the rest of my teammates!

This whole trip was so much fun. I just want to thank everyone who was involved with making this happen. It’s truly a blessing and I just want to thank everyone! We have to get up early to catch our flight back to the states. Goodnight and God bless!

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Costa Rica Day 5

What’s up everyone?! It’s Saturday and day 5 of our trip to Costa Rica! Today we play our last game while we are here. We also did a basketball clinic for some local kids and visited a school to meet some special needs children.

The day started off by us eating breakfast at the hotel. It was beautiful outside in the morning with no clouds and about 80 degrees. But by the afternoon it was raining. It’s rainy season here right now so it’s rains every day.

After breakfast we boarded the bus to the gym to help the kids at the clinic. At the gym we did some drills with the kids and had a good time interacting with them. Eddie our manager put on a dance show of his own for all the kids. That was hilarious! At the end we took a ton of pictures with them. We then headed over to the school which was right down the street. While at the school we meet some of the kids. They really appreciated us coming by. We gave them some shirts and other school supplies. It felt good to help out some people who are less fortunate than yourself. This whole experience has taught me that I am very blessed and that I really have a great life.

After the clinic and visiting with the kids at the school we went to eat and then headed back to the hotel. As soon as I got back to the hotel I fell right asleep! I took a really long nap! When I woke up it was time to get ready for the game we had that night!

We played our game at the same place we did the clinic with the kids at. The team we played was probably the best team we played this whole trip. We ended up winning by 40 but at first we didn’t start out as fast as we wanted to. The game was full of fans and kids from the clinic. We took pictures with fans after the game and headed out to get dinner once we were done with that. The place we ate at was a really nice steak house! It was delicious!

After the steak house we went back to the hotel. I feel asleep right away because we had to get up the next morning really early for white water rafting! Goodnight and God bless everyone!

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Aug. 11 – MSU Bears Football Scrimmage

Sophomore QB Kierra Harris Discusses the Bears’ First Scrimmage
Head Coach Terry Allen Reviews the Bears’ Saturday Scrimmage

Saturday’s 115-play intrasquad scrimmage at Plaster Field offered a glimpse of the future for the Missouri State football Bears. Highlighting the hour-and-a-half morning session were a series of standout plays from the Bears’ new-look offense, which racked up 502 passing yards and four scoring strikes through the air.

Freshman Tre Kelley enjoyed a strong debut effort, totaling six catches for 160 receiving yards, thanks in large part to a pair of long touchdown receptions. Early in the scrimmage, Kelley hauled in an Ashton Glaser pass at his own 45 yard line and raced to paydirt for a 75-yard touchdown. He also hooked up with sophomore signal caller Kierra Harris on a 52-yard strike later in the day.

The Bears’ four quarterbacks looked comfortable in the retooled MSU offensive attack, combining to go 37-of-66 through the air, as 15 different receivers recorded at least one catch. Harris was an efficient 16-of-20 for 221 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for 17 yards. Glaser, meanwhile, led four different scoring drives and racked up 248 yards by completing 16-of-30 passes, three of which went the distance for touchdowns. The junior transfer hooked up with senior Cadarrius Dotson on a 66-yard strike and sophomore Eric Christophel for a three-yard score in the red zone portion of the scrimmage.

Dotson also turned in a solid day, finishing with four receptions for 99 yards, while senior Adrian Williams and junior Dorian Buford combined for nine catches and 63 yards.

On the ground, the Bears got a team-high 51 yards on nine carries from freshman Cedric Miller II, and two rushing TDs by junior Mikael Cooper-Falls. In all, MSU totaled 120 rushing yards on 49 attempts.

With the offense doing its fair share of damage, the defense stepped up its game late in the session to record four of its five takeaways in the final 20 plays. Junior defensive back Zac Rasmussen and senior linebacker Nate Davis each picked off a pass, and Bear defenders totaled seven sacks and broke up six passes on the day. Additionally, the MSU defense recovered three fumbles.

On special teams, sophomore kicker Marcelo Bonani converted all four PAT attempts, and junior Austin Witmer booted a 40-yard field goal.

The Bears will take a break from the practice field Sunday before returning with two workouts Monday.

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